Amanda Burns from the Florida Atlantic University put a post on our Forum about using FCPX across multiple workstations on a SAN. We asked her for some screen grabs and thought her experiences would make an excellent front page story.
Final Cut Pro X is great for the single seat editor, but things begin to get a bit complicated when projects and events are shared, especially on a SAN (Storage Area Network). There are workarounds including the use of sparse disk images, but Amanda and the University took a different approach.
We will let her take up the story..
We decided to write an article on our workaround for using our SAN and FCPX with multiple machines. I will admit that it has been a difficult couple of years trying to decide if my production group was going to stick with Final Cut. There were issues and negativity with the new structure and the mindset of how to edit with a metadata based editing system.
With the latest release in October 2011, a lot of issues seemed to be resolved with simple things like cut/paste of attributes. Why you can’t have more than one “sequence?” Things seem to work a lot better after understanding how to rethink the organizing of your content to work more efficiently. In fact, FCPX is so much faster in many ways (have you tried the multi-cam sync based on audio yet?).
Our predicament began very recently when we were adding a second machine that would be using FCPX. We feel keeping as much data on the SAN is very important, because it is raided and backed up in case we ever have files that get deleted etc. If a computer dies, the media, files etc. are secure on the SAN and the project can go on from another machine. Our traditional organization for media storage from FCP7 is like this:
SAN>ClientName>ProjectFolder>Project Files (Media Subfolders, Graphics Subfolders, .FCP file, Final Exports subfolders)
(Click for larger images)
Setting up FCPX to the SAN:
We have two machines running FCP 7 using this media organizing system. Then we added in a third machine, this time running FCPX. The new Mac was setup pointing directly to the SAN.
- Before opening FCPX, on the Mac top menu navigation,
- select “GO” > “Connect to Server” and enter the server address to connect in
- Create a top level folder on the SAN with the name of EACH workstation that will be working on the SAN via FCPX eg: “FCPdir_UltraMac”, “FCPdir_Megamac”
- Create 2 folders in each workstation named SAN folder FCPdir_name directory called “Final Cut Events” and “Final Cut Projects” spacing, spelling and caps are very important
- SAN>FCPdir_Megamac>Final Cut Events
- SAN>FCPdir_Megamac>Final Cut Projects
- Open FCPX
- Select “Edit” > “Add SAN Location” and browse to the SAN > subdirectory for that workstation folder you created on the SAN
Now, when we want to create new events or projects in FCPX, create them on your SAN directory location in the Events browser. A folder and subfolders for the Event will be automatically created by the machine.
Clip Management with the SAN and FCP7/FCPX Environment:
Whether the project will be edited in FCP7 or FCPX, when we come in from a shoot, we copy the media off our SDHC cards directly to a specific project folder on the SAN, named accordingly:
SAN>FAU_ADMISSIONS>SPRINGRECRUIT>MEDIA>STUDENTSBENCH_01.MOV, SUNRISE_LAKE_01.mov , SUNRISE_LAKE_02.mov
Often though, media we shoot may be used across multiple projects. For example, the awesome SCULPTURE clip ("BROLL_BOCA_SCULP_CU4.mov") from the Admission’s project we may want to use for our other client, New_Event.
In FCPX, on our Megamac editing machine, after we create an Event for “NEW_EVENT_NAME”, the following folders on the SAN are created:
SAN>FCPdir_Megamac>Final Cut Events > NEW_EVENT_NAME_HERE > “Original Media” , “Render Files” , “Backups” etc…
Normally with FCPX, you would import your media and it would copy the original media into the “Original Media” folder. But for our purposes we feel it is better for our cross platform media accessing, to create a FCPX reference file, for media…
- In FCPX we select “Import Media”
- Browse to the SAN, and select the files you wish to reference. In our case:SAN>FAU_ADMISSIONS>SPRINGRECRUIT>MEDIA>BROLL_BOCA_SCULP_CU4.mov
- Once selected, click “Select Imported Files”
- Correctly reference which Event the file will be added to or create a NEW event (saved to the SAN location)
- Be sure to UNSELECT “Copy Files to Final Cut Events Folder”
This last important step will create a FCP reference file that will be created in the Event’s Original Media folder so you are not DUPLICATING your media and storage on your SAN:
SAN>FCPdir_Megamac>Final Cut Events > NEW_EVENT_NAME_HERE > “Original Media”
Now, you can have multiple machines using FCPX, accessing shared media. All of your FCPX metadata to mark Favorites, In/Outs, etc. will not affect the original media, but will be stored on your SAN, under the individual machine’s Final Cut Events and Final Cut Projects directory (SAN>FCPdir_UltraMac>…).
Opening a FCPX Project from on various FCPX Machines:
As far as we can tell this is the best way to do it currently.
Editor One, who works on the UltraMac workstation worked all day on FAU Football project. His media is all linked from various projects on the SAN:
SAN>ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT >BIOLOGY_LAKE>MEDIA>INTERVIEW_01.mov, INTERVIEW_02.mov, RUNNING_01.mov, VOICEOVER.WAV, SONG.WAV, AfterEffectsExportVideo.mov
Editor One’s project files are under:
SAN>FCPdir_UltraMac>Final Cut Events > FAU FOOTBALL B-roll >
SAN>FCPdir_UltraMac>Final Cut Projects > FAU FOOTBALL B-roll>
Editor One closes out his computer and leaves for the day.
Editor Two comes in for a night shift, logs on to their computer, Megamac, which is connected to the SAN and wants to pick up where Editor One left off. With FCPX closed, Editor Two copies these two Football folders:
SAN>FCPdir_UltraMac>Final Cut Events > FAU FOOTBALL B-roll >
SAN>FCPdir_UltraMac>Final Cut Projects > FAU FOOTBALL B-roll >
Browses on the SAN and pastes the copied folders onto
SAN>FCPdir_Megamac>Final Cut Events > FAU FOOTBALL B-roll >
SAN>FCPdir_Megamac>Final Cut Projects > FAU FOOTBALL B-roll >
Editor Two opens up FCPX on Megamac and should have access to the most recent version of Editor One to the point where the files were copied. Any changes made on UltraMac AFTER the files were copied to FCPdir_Megamac will not be present on Megamac’s version. But at the end of the day, Megamac can save, and when Editor One returns in the AM, they can copy the files from Megamac’s directory back to UltraMac and see most current version.
Many thanks again to Amanda Burns and Jose Medina Baez at Florida Atlantic University. We hope there is some new global project & event sharing features that will get added to future versions of FCPX to make everyone's life easier.